DAN ALDERMAN, Adventure guy, Austin, Texas
Classic Rock, Cold Beer, Climbing and……Chickens?
Just off South Congress Blvd. in Austin, Texas USA, sits a place where you can get a great cup of coffee, sample a local Texas brew, listen to some live music and climb at a badass rock climbing gym. Crux Climbing Center http://www.cruxclimbingcenter.com and Cosmic Coffee & Beer Garden http://www.cosmiccoffeebeer.com are sort of a match made in heaven for guys that want to get out of their comfort zone and reward themselves for the effort. Now I’ve been to Crux in the past but since it’s been a few moons, forgot what a cool spot it was to not only practice outdoor climbing but challenge my body and mind. And since there was a wall of taps and craft cocktails waiting next door, I was ready to get after it.
But First Let’s Climb
Crux Climbing Center isn’t just an indoor rock climbing gym but more of an alternative fitness facility. The 22,000 square foot facility not only offers rock climbing and bouldering but also features strength training areas, a flex space for fitness and yoga, a kid’s area, pro shop and a lounge space. Not to mention various classes as well as private lessons. And although Crux offers memberships with a lot of great benefits, they also allow walk-ins and guest passes including equipment rental in case you need climbing shoes or harness.
If you’re into bouldering, this is the place for you. The Future Wall, Bouldering Corral and Chill’s Lounge – Bouldering Cave serve as the focal point of the gym and offer an incredible variety of terrain that will challenge every level of climber. Heck, they even have a climbing area for the grommets under 12 called the Panda-moniom room.
I haven’t been to a lot of climbing gyms recently, but one of the things I really like about Crux, is that you don’t necessarily need a partner to climb several of their top-rope routes in the Rope Canyon thanks to the auto-belay anchors. Which is basically clipping into 30’ lanyard that’s wrapped around a braking system. Many other routes allow you to lead climb or top-rope with a partner as long as you’ve passed their certification classes.
That Was a Wake Up Call
If you’ve haven’t climbed, it’s important to know that routes are classified with a numbering system of 5.0 – 5.15 (Yosemite Decimal System) to designate the degree of difficulty and Crux Climbing Center makes sure that each is clearly marked so you can follow that color of holds to the top. Since I have the strength of an 80-year old woman, I kept to the 5.8-5.9 and 5.10 routes that were in the intermediate grade and plenty of challenge both mentally and physically.
Let me get back to the auto-belay device because it will freak you out the first time you use one. To set the scene, you intently climb to the top of a 30’ wall focusing on each hand-hold as you ease your way to the top. Once you get there, you look down and realize that HOLY CRAP I’m really high up and need to let go, push off the wall and trust this thing is going to actually work! After you free-fall a few feet and get your stomach out of your throat, the brake catches and brings you safely back down. It’s a rush!
After an hour of climbing a handful of routes, my arms were done and I couldn’t get over to Cosmic Coffee and Beer Garden fast enough. Sitting on an acre of permaculture inspired land, complete with chickens that break down the green waste and converts it to compost and eggs, Cosmic is quintessential Austin and simply a super-chill place to get a beverage, listen to music or even plug-in and work remotely.
There’s a variety of food trucks, including Tommy Want Wingy, that rotate through and there seems to be music every night. I came on Tuesday and Warren Hood http://www.warrenhood.com was getting ready for his set. A friend once said, “Everything is better with a string band” and I couldn’t agree more. Warren is a talented fiddle player who’s music I would describe as bluegrass fusion – think String Cheese Incident. He’s been an Austin staple for a long time and has played with the likes of Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker and Bob Weir.
I ain’t lying! Get down here and drink it up. The whole set up has a great vibe with people happily milling around enjoying the local beers, craft cocktails and “boozy coffee”. I have a feeling Crux Climbing Center and Cosmic Coffee & Beer Garden are going to be a regular part of my week.